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How to teach your child important skills without having to pull out all your hair

Your wish for your child is that he becomes self disciplined, independent and he is able to follow rules so that he can become a successful, productive citizen. However, sometimes you feel extremely frustrated because you have to repeat instructions 700 times before he budges. Well, don't despair. It is possible to teach your child rules and give him self discipline without the feeling of daily frustration.

First of all, why is it important for a child to be self disciplined? Well it's simple. A self disciplined child is able to regulate his emotions better (not scream and shout when things don't go his way), he will be able to follow rules easier (when he's in school and the teacher says to complete 5 questions, he'll be able to do it) and honestly, he'll get along with the kids on the playground a lot better.

So are you ready to learn how to teach your child important skills like how to brush his teeth, tie his shoe laces, make his bed, etc?

1) Make sure the skills are age appropriate: Sometimes parents expect just too much from their kids. Only teach skills that a child can master at that age. Don't try to teach a 2 year old how to wash dishes or a 6 year old to mow the lawn. Sure there are some genius kids who can do it, but the average 6 year old just doesn't have that type of mastery. Before you get upset that your child isn't able to do something, first ask yourself if he is capable. Some children are also not as mature as their age mates. So try not to compare your child to others. Teach him skills that he is able to complete.

2) Make sure your directions are clear and simple: Parents are known for shouting out 17 instructions at once- "Go downstairs, get a cup of water, get your bag, grab your lunch, comb your hair, then wait for me to come downstairs." Woah!! Very few children (or adults) can remember 7 instructions at once. First, do not yell instructions from one room to the other. Talking through walls isn't very effective. Call your child into the room where you are, then only give him 1 or 2 instructions at once. Sometimes you can have him repeat the instructions to ensure that he heard and understood you. If your instructions are not clear or simple you're setting him up for failure and setting yourself up for frustration.

3) Watch your frustration level: When you're in a hurry or you're upset, that's the worst time to dish out instructions. You won't have time to explain clearly and your child will be stressed out. Also, if you're giving your child an instruction for a challenging task, chances are that he's going to need extra help. So don't set yourself up for failure. Only assign difficult tasks when you know you're going to have an extra minute to help him. Most kids cannot perform well under pressure. It's a simple fact. They'll get upset or have a meltdown.

4) Remove all distractions: Before giving out instructions, make sure the TV and video game console are off. There's no point competing with World of War Craft or Sponge Bob-don't try. First make sure your child isn't distracted, then give him 1 or 2 simple instructions. Sometime your child won't understand your instructions. Instead of yelling or getting frustrated, just repeat it in an easier format. Many parents will say things like "Why are you so distracted?" or "You just don't listen." But the problem is not the child, the problem is with the teacher. 

5) Use praise: After your child follows through, praise him. If you ask him to pass the salt and he does, say "Thank you." If he cleans up his room, give him a high five. These things not only build his self esteem, but they encourage him to continue to contribute to the household in a positive way. I know what you're about to say, "My mom never praised me for mowing the lawn. So I'm not going to praise my child." Well if you want a child with high self esteem and self discipline who has a strong, positive relationship with you, it'll only help to sow the seeds now.

6) Leave room for questions and errors: Many parents run their households like military installations. They don't leave any room for their kids to question them. It's okay if your child asks you why you use Windex on the glass instead of Mr. Clean or why you mow the lawn in a certain way. Children are curious. If you're not satisfying their curiosity at home, when they get older, they'll find other influences to give them the attention they need- and you won't like it.  Plus the truth is that no one wants to raise a zombie child who doesn't ask questions. No one wants their child to just obey without reasoning first. If you want an independent, smart child, leave room for questions and for errors. The best investors and the most successful CEOs are people who are constantly questioning the system. Also remember that your kids will make mistakes. You can either beat them down when they do or teach them resiliency. It's your choice.

And to learn more about Why do your kids behave the way they do? click the link to read another blog post.

What are some ways you teach your child simple instructions? If you're in the Murrieta or Temecula area and you'd like to learn more about ways to improve your relationship with your child, how to strengthen his/her self esteem, and how to manage misbehavior so that your home becomes a safe haven, call me on 951-905-3181 or email me here. We'll talk about my 8-week parenting support group. If you feel like it's a good fit for you, I'll put you on the waitlist. You too can have a peaceful home with self disciplined, happy kids.